[Sequel to Unrequited.]
It was an ideal afternoon – warm and cheerful. The day was pleasant with the trees outside Cecelia’s window looking their finest under the sun’s amber glow, flirting and dancing with the wind. She was alone at home, and all she longed for was a little time, uninterrupted, with Herbert.
Settling on her bed with her passive, cotton-stuffed bear, whom she lovingly addressed as Bonny, she unburdened her bedside table by picking up the book she had been escaping to lately.
Leafing through the pages of the hardback, she came to where she had left off – the page marked by a folded corner. Sweeping a lock of hair out of her face, she crinkled her nose to set her reading glasses on a convenient level, and started to read.
Two pages later, Cecelia couldn’t bear the suspense anymore, “Oh, Marjory! You talk sense but you talk too much!” she quipped, anxiously waiting for the male protagonist to make an appearance. With furrowed brows she continued reading the book and gave a low squeal when Herbert knocked on Marjory’s door putting an end to her droning soliloquy.
And as the man of her dreams came in floating on words, Cecelia’s thirteen year-old heart leapt in joy and anticipation. Her rosy lips broke into a delightful smile which made her eyes twinkle brighter, while her hand involuntarily reached up to set that obstinate lock of hair behind her ear, again.
‘Oh Herbert, Herbert. Find time for me, did you? I was worrying myself sick. Why do you have to make me wait so? Don’t you care for me? Not one bit?’ said Marjory, her expression one of anguish and disdain.
‘Marjory, my dear, do you see that storm raging outside your window?’
‘I do, Herbert. It is very much like the storm raging in my heart…’
‘I wish you could see how I tried,’ sighed Herbert, ‘I wish you knew it wasn’t my intention to upset you.’
“Aye Marjory, be rational!” remarked the engrossed reader, her heart going out to Herbert in his misery. How she wished she could rescue him from the clutches of Marjory, and set him free, hoping he’d come for her. After all, Cecelia was convinced that it wasn’t Herbert’s heart that made him love Marjory, it was his situation.
Page after page she couldn’t help but take Herbert’s side – such is the fierceness of young, foolish love. With every page that she turned, her hand went to caress its surface, and it made her giddy with joy to think that she was caressing not the rough paper but the smooth skin of Herbert’s handsome face – handsome not by description, but by imagination.
Time, ignored by Cecelia for a full two hours, decided to try harder to gain this young lady’s attention (and succeeded!) Finally taking note of it and accepting defeat, Cecelia dog-eared page 134 of the book with a deep breath and closed it shut.
How I wish I were a part of Herbert’s world! Then I could provide the love and comfort that he seeks but fails to find… She thought as she rolled over on the bed. She was now lying on her back, with both her hands outstretched on either side of her. Bonny, long-forgotten, now lay in an awkward position on one corner of the bed – his smile never dimming, even as he was pushed out of Cecelia’s thoughts.
What if we could meet? Will he like me? Oh, but it will be so exciting! What if he knew about me? Oh just you imagine! And suddenly, as if hit by her conscience, Cecelia remembered Bonny whom she grabbed by the leg, pulled close and enveloped in a bear hug. The smile on both the faces, even if there for different reasons, was something you should’ve been there to see.